Monday, June 22, 2009

Hotter Than ...

From a couple of days ago: We realized just before going to the cashier that we'd forgotten the eggs. Joe looked at me and said, 'Would you mind running over and grabbing the eggs, it'll be faster?' I nodded and then quickly turned my chair around and motored over to get the eggs. It felt wonderful being the one doing something to lessen the load. It felt wonderful to be independent enough to easily fulfill an everyday request. Simply, it feels good to be the one helping, it changes status and raises confidence.

I wonder if she knew that.

We were having a tea at our favourite outdoor cafe here in downtown. There's very little room and they pack in too many tables. I pulled into one of the tables on the outer rim of the cluster. I was in position to watch people walk down Yonge Street, an activity that can keep me entertained for hours on end. Joe had placed the teas beside me and plopped into a chair himself. We were unwinding on an unexpectedly beautiful day.

I saw the two of them coming, eyeing a table near us, the only one presently open. I could see near desperation in both faces. They were carrying parcels and packages, they were near stumbling as they rushed. I tried to signal that I'd hold the table for them but they didn't see me try to reassure them. They arrived and both fell into their seats.

They were clearly mother and daughter. They were clearly exhausted. As I heard the daughter speak I heard the drawl of a cerebral palsy accent saying, 'I'll get us the coffees.' The mother simply said, 'OK, just don't kill anyone on the way back OK?' Her daughter flung forward with a laugh and then calming herself said, 'Don't worry, I'll just burn the assholes.' Now mother laughed. They both turned as they heard Joe laugh - he can't stop himself. We all smiled at each other. I think me in my wheelchair moved us all into an odd kind of 'band of brothers'.

The daughter got up and walked relatively smoothly to the door of the cafe and then in. We didn't fall into conversation with mother as she busied herself with organizing the packages which were in a jumble at her feet. I watched at the door and then realized that the whole of the terrace of tables were turned and watching the door. Like we were waiting for a blessing from the Pope, or for the Queen to appear on her balcony. Everytime the door opened, the group tensed waiting for the woman to arrive with hot coffees for her table.

In a hideous moment I felt a bit like we were at a freak show, all waiting for the fat lady to dance, or the stong man to strong. But then I noticed that the faces weren't curious, they were in an odd way hopeful, and an odder way respectful - none was gawking, or openly staring, or even mildly mocking. When she appeared carrying the coffee's she was amazingly steady and walked as if she knew that people were watching and that people had watched for years and years. But more than that it was as if she walked with an odd bit of pride, a 'take that' attitude of accomplishment.

She placed the coffee beside her mother and at her place. Then she sat down. Mother seemed to relax just a little bit, like it might have been hard for her to let go of the helping role and just wait for her daughter to be the one who served. Like it was hard to ask, and harder to recieve. The daughter took a sip and said, 'Know what's hotter than this coffee?' pause 'The guy who served it,' and the two of them were off talking, always mother and daughter, but often, a little, like friends.


Brussel Sprouts Hater said...

Thanks for the term "cerbral palsy accent". Seems to me a useful and respectful way of describing a speech pattern when one needs to.

what_the_heck_of_that? said...

Or MAYBE the mother knew all along that her daughter would be fine with the coffees, like she always is, and was just having a relax and regroup after shopping and they were both being completely ordinary in their ordinariness. Whatever it was, I bet mother and daughter have also shared a heck of a journey, and I can only hope my future relationship with my daughter (she also has CP) is as healthy, and ordinary, as that one seems.

Glee said...

I reckon they were stirring the "audience".

Excellent fun.

Love the audience response tho. We're getting there. Or rather they are getting there.


CJ said...

I wish I had had a relationship like that with my mother.

Lee said...

Brussel Sprouts Hater:

Sometimes I use the phrase "careful speech" to describe somebody who might have a very slight communication disability or accent.

lisa said...

Some of your entries make me so happy, Dave. This was one of them. It makes me feel a little more positive about the true nature of people.


Laurie said...

Thanks Dave, you made my day!

Heike Fabig said...

Can't wait for my daugher to do the same one day (although knowing her, she will add a pretend trip to it if she's walking by then, or a pretend-to-be-about-to-bump someone's table if she uses her chair to add to the theatre). Lovely moment. Thanks for sharing it with us Dave.

Emily said...

Ah, so I'm not the only one who refers to it as a "cerebral palsy accent" - I do that, too. :)

I love the way you write about ordinary seeming experiences and find the wisdom that makes them more extraordinary; I often find reading your blog very calming and peaceful (and informative).

Thank you.